that’s just wrong

Remember when you were a kid, and everything was off limits? Well, not literally everything, but usually enough that you felt repressed? It didn’t matter how lenient your parents were, you still had to push the envelope, find your own path, make your own mistakes. Something about it just appealed to you. Drew you in. Made you feel like you were in control of your own little world.

I had friends in high school who pushed the already very loose boundaries their parents had set. I saw one friend spiral downward, dealing with situations and experiences far beyond her brief sixteen years. I don’t want that for C. I don’t want to shield her from the world, but is it too much to ask that she be kept in a bubble until after college? Or maybe until she’s thirty? Ok, ok, just kidding. But seriously, I’d rather not have her face those type of distractions during high school. It’s tough enough without extra drama thrown in. It goes hand in hand with my commentary on wanting a smaller setting for raising kids. Large cities come with large problems. In my idealistic setting, my small town, those problems are significantly downscaled, if not nonexistent. And those problems definitely don’t happen to my kids, or their friends. Naive, I know. Let me live in my fantasy world for now.

Why is it so enticing to forge your own path? Why is it more exciting to be defiant? To do something that you know is wrong? What is it in human nature that pulls at us so strongly? Maybe it triggers parts of our brain that bring euphoria and excitement. These questions are mostly rhetorical, ones that can’t be answered. Regardless, as a parent, it’s frustrating to be on the receiving end of defiance. It makes my life more difficult, more challenging.

C is pushing boundaries these days. She’s testing the waters, seeing what she can get away with. If it wasn’t already apparent, the “I’m two” switch has definitely flipped. She demonstrates her new defiance often. Like when she runs away from me while we’re standing in a very long line at a department store, laughing with glee at the fact that I’m scampering behind her, trying to catch up. Or runs out in to a busy parking lot while my hands are full, giving me a mini heart attack. Or when she tests boundaries by hitting or pinching me. Softly, yes, but knowing that what she’s doing is wrong and seeing what happens when she does it. Right now I try to explain that “mommy doesn’t like that” and “it hurts mommy”, but I see more time outs happening very soon.

With defiance comes independence, which is exciting to see. I love knowing that C is growing and becoming her own little person. She still checks in with me when dealing with something she’s really uncertain about, but when she thinks she knows what’s going on, she rushes ahead full steam. Scary for us lowly parent types, but exciting all the same. Seeing her grow. Watching her come in to her own.

So, where do you draw that line of lenient versus strict parenting? How do you decide where that line should be? Being too strict will ensure certain rebellion, but being too lenient, and failing to provide much needed rules, expectations and boundaries isn’t much better. I guess well figure it out when we get there. It’s just something to keep in mind as these little battles occur today. During the twos, and the threes, and the fours… sigh.

See? Not leaving C out of the blog, just refocusing my direction a bit. This post deviated a bit from my original plans, but we ended it how I’d hoped, so I guess all was not lost. Too many thoughts in my head right now.

Until tomorrow.


2 Responses to “that’s just wrong”

  1. 1 Ingrid January 9, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    I wonder these things too. I worked with so many teenagers with behavior problems (juvenile detention, criminal treatment center, homeless teen shelter, alternative school); I found myself looking for a “magic bullet” of examples of things NOT to do. It isn’t always that clear, because there are so many ways to wander down the wrong path, and each family sort of has to figure out what each individual kid might need (for many, many years with their needs changing all the time!). That’s so hard.
    I think that our family might be on the side of strict parenting—but we balance that with lots of love and attention in times of no conflict. We need to be firm in order to keep things moving smoothly around here. I have seen families that are super strict have kids who respond by being out of control, but I’ve also seen that in families that are too lenient. The kids are almost saying, “Look at me! Pay attention to this!”. The key, I think, is just in being consistent and giving adequate time and interest throughout that kid’s life. We’re strict, but we’re also respectful, and we explain our decisions and listen to our kids and change things if the kid’s idea really makes sense.

    • 2 suzyness January 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      I WISH there was a magic bullet, but I know that’s not the case. Nor is there one size fits all, I’m sure. Oh well, we’ll figure it out as we go and probably still get blamed for effing up somewhere along the way. :)

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Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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